Tuesday, September 06, 2011

@cyganka: explaining to a friend up north: "he's an abusive husband, basically. sunny in between intermittent beatings."
Welcome to our past weekend here in New Orleans. Can't think of anything more appropriate than the tweet above as a description for what the weather was like. More than anything else, the uncertainty of what would happen in the city itself was what had us in a bizarre limbo. Flooding further south of the city and the breach of an "interim levee" at the edge of the Harvey Canal on the west bank of the river were unfortunate events further complicated by how the damages caused will be handled by insurance companies and the Army Corps of Engineers alike. It makes what I'm going to post about pithy and trifling in comparison, but fact of the matter is, a slow-moving system like the one we just had passing close by proved to us, more than anything else, that one of the greater things to fear from these storms could well be our extremely bored selves.

I own a Truisms t-shirt by the conceptual artist Jenny Holzer on which a bunch of seemingly contradictory phrases are silkscreened (I used to get into an argument over one of them with a good friend of mine every time I wore the shirt...but that's a whole 'nother story). Among the phrases is BOREDOM MAKES YOU DO CRAZY THINGS.

After one has taken in all the occasional squalls, cleared the storm drains between them, made sure the water levels didn't seep into the floor of one's car, taken the pets out despite their unwillingness to put one dainty paw on a wet sidewalk in order to relieve themselves, and marveled at the fact that the power is still on, what is there left to do but hunker down and stave off ennui as best one can? So, we cleaned house. We played computer games and board games and card games. We got more than our fill of crap teevee-watching in (and I of my own guilty pleasure through reruns online) between monitoring the meteorologist freak-outs on the local news. We cooked and baked. We read and napped. We had to make it a point to leave the house at least once a day, which usually turned out to be at breakfast. I've never seen local breakfast places so devoid of 20-30 minute waits on weekend mornings as I have this past weekend. People got shocked over the past few days, and local businesses suffered, resorting to some desperation on their part to keep customers coming. Not that I blame them. This time of year isn't normally a bad time for retail, but Lee messed with everyone's best-laid plans, including ours to venture out to the beach. Closest we got to that was the aquarium and the Algiers ferry.

Being held hostage by what the wind and the rains could do drove us more than a little nuts. Only so many goods can be baked, so many games played, so much shut-eye acquired. I know my grandparents were probably more than a little disappointed to find that this storm didn't require us to evacuate - if Lee had become a full-fledged hurricane, we'd have headed up to my parents' in Oklahoma City where, coincidentally, my grandparents happened to be visiting this past weekend. After having checked the Gulf Coast surf reports early Monday morning in a last-ditch gesture of eternal hope that was dashed on discovering the possible wave heights, I found myself wishing we'd piled into the car and gone anyhow, even if the closest body of water we'd be near would be the artificial Lake Hefner. Maybe if I were experiencing all of this by myself, things would've been different, but the cabin fever my husband was suffering was highly contagious.

My personal favorite post-storm move, though, can be seen below:

That riot of broken bamboo stalks actually came from the house that can be seen just past the palm tree, but was dragged across the street by members of that household in part as a service to people driving down the gray brick road or walking down its sidewalk. Sure, that pile is too big to be on the narrow sidewalk in front of that house - but I saw it and wondered:
  • Did the people living in the house right next to the pile give their permission for it to migrate across the street?
  • Close examination of the nicely-cut ends of the bamboo in the pile, as well as close examinations of other, much smaller debris piles in the neighborhood, red-flag this stack as a suspiciously opportunistic bit of yard work more than a casualty of storm winds. Why pay for debris-hauling when you can take advantage of a storm situation to pick it all up for you?
No, I'm not gonna whistle-blow the hell out of this one. I just could not believe the depths to which my bored mind would go to create a busybody mountain out of a pile of bamboo. I'd much rather have been schlepping up to the Catskills to assist with all their mess rather than creating messes of my own. I'd also have liked it if the weather had gone further west in order to put this out. Sure, Texas has Rick Perry, but it doesn't deserve to go up in flames.

Anyway, boredom makes you do crazy things in large part because of the partly forced idleness that is exhilarating at first, then grips your soul with an emptiness that no amount of contemplation of Elise's behavior on Hell's Kitchen or of the godawful college football uniforms teams across the nation seem to be sporting in a horrific epidemic of fashion-gone-wrong* can fully disperse. At least the aftermath of city-abuser Lee has given us a beautiful day. Enjoy it while it lasts, 'cause we aren't out of the hot-weather woods yet.

Update, 2:44 PM: To do more than just look at the pic I linked to of the wildfires affecting central Texas, head here and send help to the folks mentioned at Virgotex's link.


*Okay, so it may be yet another sign of the apocalypse, but face it, the business of sports uniforms is a fairly serious one, even if it does involve putting the state flag all about a player's head and shoulders...and it's an excuse for me to link to this.

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